The Dark Knight. The Caped Crusader. The Batman. Whatever you call him, this comic book hero has dominated print and the silver screen for decades – and small businesses could stand to learn a thing or two from the winged detective.
With the latest Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises, hitting cinemas this week, there’s no better time for entrepreneurs to learn from the master of deception and detective work.
After all, the series is big business. According to preliminary box office figures, The Dark Knight Rises has already collected as much as $US25 million in advance ticket sales. In the United States, more than 2,000 screenings have been sold out, and analysts expect an opening anywhere between $US170 million and $US195 million. That would make it the best performing opening ever for a non-3D movie.
In Australia alone, the film made $3.5 million on its opening day.
But Bruce Wayne is no stranger to business, either. The hero inherited the fortunes of Wayne Enterprises and maintains a $US7 billion fortune, according to Forbes‘ most recent list of wealthy fictional characters.
So in honour of the Bat breaking more box-office records, here are a few lessons you could stand to learn from the iconic superhero:
Gadgets aren’t toys – the importance of research and development
It’s true, some of Batman’s gadgets have been fairly hokey – but there’s no doubt Bruce Wayne spends a large amount of his time investing in gadgets and research and development.
Wayne’s lair is filled with sophisticated computer systems and databases, all of which require state-of-the-art technology. But he’s also a keen proponent of corporate research and development.
In the latest iteration of the films, Wayne sources most of his gadgetry from a closed division of Wayne Enterprises focused on military hardware. Once he realises the benefit of all the tools at his command, he starts putting some back into production.
An entrepreneur loves his gadgets, but more important is the need for continual research. All businesses – even lone detectives – need to make sure their technology is at the top of their priority list.
“Does it come in black?”
A cohesive brand is crucial to a successful enterprise, and that’s something Wayne understands better than most. All of Batman’s gadgets contain the symbol of a bat – even the famous police signal lights up the sky with his brand.
And, more importantly, it all comes in black.
Recently SmartCompany highlighted some research showing younger shoppers aren’t able to identify advertising as clearly as they could in the past because of mixed branding messages across different media channels. A cohesive brand isn’t just to look cool – it’s to make sure you can maintain a consistent voice as a company.
A great support network
Batman gets all the attention, but he’s far from alone. Bruce Wayne has a full support network of allies at his disposal, feeding him information and giving him advice when he needs it.
The best known of these is the butler and mentor Alfred, who has access to all of Wayne’s systems and technology. But there’s more – Lucius Fox at Wayne Enterprises providing Wayne with all the technology he needs, and his own man within the police department, Commissioner Gordon.
The point is simple. Even Bruce Wayne can’t fight crime alone, and neither can an entrepreneur do everything by themselves. A good support network is crucial to good business.